CHILD CUSTODY AND CHILD SUPPORT LAWYER IN FAIRFAX, VIRGINIA
If you are involved in a dispute over child support or child custody in Fairfax, VA, it is extremely important to retain effective and knowledgeable legal counsel. Why? Because an adverse judgment could leave you financially destitute and/or unable to see your children on a schedule you prefer.
The laws related to child custody and child support in Virginia can be quite complex. Below is an overview of important information you need to know.
Child Custody Laws in Virginia
In the Commonwealth of Virginia, there are a number of different child custody arrangements that can be approved by a court. The most common include:
- SOLE CUSTODY
- JOINT CUSTODY
- SPLIT CUSTODY
When determining child custody, courts in Fairfax, and elsewhere in Virginia, typically look at which arrangement would be in the best interests of the child, or children. Factors commonly considered in determining what is in the best interests of the child, or children, include:
- AGE AND PHYSICAL AND MENTAL CONDITION OF THE CHILD
- AGE AND PHYSICAL AND MENTAL CONDITION OF EACH PARENT
- RELATIONSHIP EXISTING BETWEEN EACH PARENT AND EACH CHILD
- THE ABILITY OF THE PARENTS TO COMMUNICATE AND COOPERATE
- THE NEEDS OF THE CHILD
- THE REASONABLE PREFERENCE OF THE CHILD
- HISTORY OF FAMILY ABUSE
Courts must consider all statutory factors when determining which child custody arrangement would be in the best interests of the child.
Modifying a Child Custody Arrangement
If you, or your ex-spouse, encounter a change in circumstances (e.g., a job loss, sudden decline or increase in income, relocation, etc.), then it may be possible to petition the court to have your child custody order modified. A court may modify a previous child custody order under certain circumstances, including:
- SUBSTANTIAL CHANGE IN THE CHILD’S NEEDS
- SUBSTANTIAL CHANGE IN EMPLOYMENT
- THE INTENDED RELOCATION OF THE CUSTODIAL PARENT
Overview of Visitation Rights
It is important to understand that the “non-custodial parent” (i.e. the parent who is not awarded full custody) is entitled to visitation rights with their child, or children. The only exception to this general rule is if visitation would be detrimental to the best interests of the child, or children. In some instances, restrictions may be placed on the visitation arrangement, such as supervised visitation. Grandparents and other family members may also be granted visitation rights if it is deemed to be in the best interests of the child.
Children have a legal right of support from both parents. To ensure that this right continues upon divorce, courts apply child support guidelines that dictate the amount a non-custodial parent must pay in child support. These guidelines are based primarily on the number of children, the combined monthly gross income of both parents, work-related day care costs, and insurance costs.
The non-custodial parent is typically required to continue paying child support until the child turns 18 years old or upon the child’s graduation from high school. In certain cases, however, such as where a child is incapacitated, the parent may be required to continue supporting the child throughout his or her entire life. Child support arrangements may be modified upon a change in circumstances, such as an increase in salary, loss of a job, and change in day care expenses. A modification of support only dates back to the filing and service of the request for modification with the court.
Calculating Monthly Child Support
The amount of child support a parent is required to pay is established by state law, specifically Virginia Code § 20-108.2. The primary factor for establishing child support is the gross monthly income of the parent and the number of children who require support. It is presumed in Virginia that this amount is correct for a child support award, unless the parent disputing the calculated monthly amount submits evidence to the contrary. Fairfax courts also consider a variety of other financial factors when calculating a child support award, including:
- The custody arrangement for the child
- Childcare costs incurred while a parent is attending school
- Special needs of the child
- Debts incurred during the marriage for the benefit of the child
- The financial resources of the child
- The child’s standard of living while the parents were married
- Earning capacity of each parent
Additionally, the court will also consider any factor deemed relevant to the case.
Requesting Modification of Monthly Child Support
If you are paying child support, you have the right to petition the court to have the amount recalculated based upon a “material change” in your circumstances. A “material change” is typically an event or circumstance that impacts your monthly income. A material change may refer to a number of things. For example, a material change may mean your income suddenly decreased or the custodial parent’s income increased dramatically. Alternatively, a material change may occur if one or more child has become emancipated and is no longer subject to the provisions of the original child support order. The party seeking to change support must show the material change justifies the requested modification in child support.
Take Action Today – Contact an Experienced Fairfax Family Attorney with the Dua Law Firm, PLLC
If you have a child, or children, and are confronting a contentious custody or child support dispute with your spouse, now is the time to take action. You want the best for your child and the best outcome possible in your divorce. This is why you should contact our office. The knowledgeable Fairfax child custody and child support attorneys with the Dua Law Firm, PLLC, are here to help you through this difficult and stressful time. Our legal team is experienced and has a track record of helping parents achieve the best child support and custody arrangements. Contact skilled Fairfax divorce attorneys Travis Van Hook or Raj Dua at (703) 382-7300 today to schedule a free, confidential consultation.